The mental health of Australians 2

7.3 Mental and physical disorder comorbidity

Page last updated: May 2009

The 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing focussed on the six chronic physical conditions recognised as National Health Priority Areas (NHPA). These are diabetes, asthma, coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer and arthritis. Just less than one third (32.2%) of the population reported having at least one of the NHPA chronic physical conditions. There was little variation between the sexes (30.0% in males and 34.3% in females) (Table 7-3).

One third (34.0%) of people with 12-month mental disorders also identified that they had a chronic physical condition. For females, 38.2% of those with 12-month mental disorders had a chronic physical condition compared to 33.2% of females without a mental disorder. For males, 28.5% of those with 12-month mental disorders also had a chronic physical condition compared to 30.3% without a mental disorder.

Mental disorders were more common among the population with chronic physical conditions than those without (28.0% compared to 17.6%) (Table 7-4). This was particularly true for females with 32.9% of those with a chronic physical condition also having 12-month mental disorders compared to 22.1% of males.

Table 7-3: Prevalence of chronic physical conditions in people with 12-month mental disorders by sex

Any National Health Priority Area chronic physical condition (%)

Males
Females
Persons
Any mental disorder
28.5
38.2
34.0
No mental disorder
30.3
33.2
31.7
Total population
30.0
34.3
32.2

Table 7-4: Age-standardised prevalence of 12-month mental disorders in people with national Health Priority Area (NHPA) chronic physical conditions by sex

Males (%)

Females (%)

Persons (%)

Any NHPA chronic physical condition
22.1
32.9
28.0
No NHPA chronic physical condition
16.4
19.0
17.6
Total population
17.9
22.6
20.3

Note: Total population prevalence differs to that presented elsewhere due to age-standardisation.

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7.3.1 Days out of role

The average number of days out of role experienced by people with comorbid mental disorders and chronic physical conditions is shown in Table 7-5. People without a mental disorder or chronic physical condition had one day out role in the previous 30 days.

People with chronic physical conditions only had 2.5 days out of role. However, people with mental disorders had on average more days out of role, with those with mental disorders only reporting 3.2 days out of role and those with both a mental disorder and a chronic physical condition reporting the greatest number of days out of role (5.5 days) (Table 7-5).

Table 7-5: Days out of role by comorbidity of 12-month mental disorders and National Health Priority Area (NHPA) chronic physical conditions

Days out of role in previous 30 days (mean)

No mental disorder or NHPA chronic physical condition
1.0
Mental disorder only
3.2
NHPA chronic physical condition only
2.5
Mental disorder and NHPA chronic physical condition
5.5
Total population
1.9